The Avero core product is a data insights tool that puts information in the hands of restaurant operators to optimize their business. It is intended to enable managers of restaurant groups and hotels to get back to running their day-to-day, with an application that allows them to capture performance, record issues, and get a holistic view of how the business is performing. We are constantly releasing new features in the product, but when I joined Avero, there was no sense of unification around interaction or patterns within the product. With this project, I set out to design search and filtering patterns that would bring the product experience together as well as provide useful tools for our users to disseminate data into digestible pieces.
The challenge with this project was that Avero is a very large product. Serving enterprises and SMBs, globally Avero has been a leader in hospitality for 20 years. Which means, we have legacy software issues and layers upon layers of UX issues to unravel.
I worked closely and collaboratively with the Director of Engineering and the VP of Product to get this project kicked off. I identified the issues through doing an initial exploration of the product and identified this as an area of improvement that would bring tangible and immediate value to our users without disrupting the product experience at a fundamental level. I set out with a team (appropriately named EXPO for the role of expeditor in a restaurant) to deliver on this functionality consisting of a Product Owner, 2 QA Engineers, 4 Software Engineers, 2 Front-End Developers, and 1 UI Designer. I was responsible for the design strategy and execution as well as managing the collaborative effort between designers and developers to deliver a solution for our customers.
Save restaurateurs time on administrative tasks by putting tools to filter information and generate quick insights, increasing revenue and optimizing labor.
Starting with users, I observed the way that they used the product. In the field, I spent time purely observing General Managers, Floor Managers, Directors of Finance, Directors of Technology, and so on, using Avero. How did they use it? Where did they get stuck? What is useful. And there was a common theme, filtering down the excess information by certain metrics was proving to be difficult.
I started sketching out some solutions. Working with the scrum team and also cross-functionally with the Account Management team who is often on the front lines, we identified a set of filters that needed to be refined and were the most relevant to the information our users were seeking.
The challenge here was that there are filters of all shapes, sizes, colors, metrics, and functions across the product. So, I decided to narrow the scope to reports that had a specific set of useful filters and start there. As this project continues, this is an ongoing effort to completely revamp the idea of our “Report Generator” and the concept all together. If I had more time and resources on this project, I would have completely restructured the way that we think about generating versus filtering versus searching all of the data in the product. But, considering this was a first attempt to get a high-value design deliverable into the hands of our customers, this is where I started.
My primary objective was to unify the behavior and patterns of the filtering throughout the product. After putting a number of solutions in front of the team, due to the nature of introducing a new filter a the report level, I moved forward with the solution of a side drawer that would focus the filtering behavior on a particular report after that report has already been generated. This was able to address different areas of the product that handled displaying of different information in distinct ways. I needed to pull that all together and this was not an easy sell.
Internally there is some hesitation around how adept our customers at are receiving new technology. I am constantly met with a sentiment of “our customers aren’t very good at using technology.” This is a difficult perspective to overcome (which I can discuss in more depth how it was my mission to also evangelize the importance and value of design in this organization) and presented significant challenges in my progress at modernizing the product and designing solutions that are relevant for our users.
First, Logbook. There was a new product launch that happened just before I arrived, with no search and no filtering. This was the most immediate need, one that was actually driven through customer feedback and complaints that were surfacing. I started here.
This began to translate and span across products. There was another team that I was working with on launching a completely new product to be within our core application that provided robust Menu Engineering (a completely essential tool for the restaurant industry). I then translated the work being done to this Menu Matrix report that allowed users to further distill information with targeted filters.
Also, during this time, there was a team that I was working with that was dealing with Global Navigation and our “Report Generator.” We were working to launch a new Item Sales Report into Alpha and significant work needed to be done on the Category Metric for this report. I used the patterns designed in this project, to relate to the behavior of the filters for this team.
And finally, there was another team working on revamping the functionality of Check Search which allows restaurant operators to look up checks and provide guests with relevant information about that check for their records. It was under the purview of the team that worked on our Productivity Applications and I was able to translate this work and pattern established to that team as well.
In the end, these patterns were launched into many areas across teams and product. It was important for me coming in to find ways to unify the experience and show the key stakeholders the value of a holistic product experience. This effort ultimately lent itself to scaling design efforts through pattern establishment and my campaign for building a design system at Avero. Setting the foundation for the Design Library (ask me more about this) that I began work on with this project, this set the tone for interaction improvements showing their value through customer experience. We began to see our customers use our product differently, navigate our reports to get more value, and ultimately begin to see the common thread that unified the entire product experience. This is an ongoing effort, if I had more time and more resources, I would have slowed this down and peeled apart the report generator. But, I wanted this to be delivered quickly, reveal the ability to scale design efforts, and ultimately pave the path towards more design influence in the company and that’s what it achieved.